Anger into Social Action

I’m moving. Moving forward. I was disturbed, distressed and heart broken last week when I read about another school shooting. When will it end? Why can’t we send our children to school without them being shot? When will we stand up for our children?

Those were some of the questions running through my mind. I needed to regroup, reflect and pray. I’m tired of talking about the injustices that are going on. I’m tired of seeing the news were children are running for their lives. I’m a mom. How do you think that makes me feel?

It’s insane where we live in a society where it is easier to get a gun than a duplicate social security card for your child. It’s insane where it is easier to get a gun than a library card. It’s insane when children and young adults can walk into a school and shoot openly and still walk out alive. No I’m not advocating their death, but there are parents grieving for the lives you’ve stolen from them.

Mental health is real. I’m not denying that. But, society is cruel as hell when you can just let anyone get a gun. This young man is a fool. On what planet do you think it is okay to shoot up a school and kill people because you were told no? Get the hell out of here! No means no. A young woman is not required to date you. That doesn’t give you the right to go off and shoot up people. Don’t you know better than that?

I’m tired of crying. I’m tired of fighting. I’m tired of asking for justice. I’m tired of asking for gun reform. I’m turning my anger into social action and casting my vote in the primaries. I am asking for my elected officials to get off their butts and stop making it so easy for people to have access to guns and go on a killing spree.

I can’t take no more. I am prayerfully going to the polls as my elected officials have a responsibility to their constituents. To me and to you. I’m prayerfully asking that we think of the families that have had to bury their children due to gun violence. I’m asking that you exercise your right to vote. My voice matters when I vote. Yours does too.

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Note: I do not own the rights to this photo. A Google search was performed for the image selected.

Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

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Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July!  The 4th of July commemorates our adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The Declaration of Independence said that Americans were no longer under British rule. Instead, the thirteen British colonies came together to become our own country.

I know it seems that we live in a country of over stimulation and unpopularity, but it is still a great country. Not by those who choose to discriminate against us, but by the people who want and know how awesome America is. There is a lot wrong with us right now, but we are still here united and determined to make this country a great one.

One of the most famous passages of the Declaration of Independence is “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

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Remember that we are all created equally. We all have rights. We give government power. We are one. Happy 4th of July America!

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Want to keep in touch? You can find me on social media at the following links: Twitter @mskeeinmd, Facebook page A Thomas Point of View and my Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/mskeeinmd/.

Munch’s Black History Moment

Munch is learning about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement in school. He was telling me about Martin Luther King Jr. and all the things he learned…

  • he was a pastor
  • he’s from Atlanta, Georgia
  • he went to Morehouse (like his daddy)
  • he delivered his I Have a Dream speech in Washington, DC
  • he was assassinated

As he was talking he stopped and said “Mommy, Martin Luther King’s speech was about us living in harmony. People of all colors. He wanted us to get along. Like I get along with Noah and Emma. We’re all one.” I smiled. “Yeah, baby we’re all one people. We all matter.”

He then said “Even though Noah and Emma and I have different colors we are all important and need to learn how to get along. We all belong to God and Martin Luther King Jr. wanted all of us to be treated fairly.”

Yep, this kid is amazing. My son. He knew that his skin color was different than my girlfriend and her family. But, they don’t see color as a problem. They see it as different but perfectly normal. We all matter. We should all get along.

I have been blessed with some amazing friends throughout my life and I’m excited that in a time of turmoil that my son can see the bigger picture. His life matters. The life of his friends matter. We’re all apart of that big beautiful rainbow.

 

Motivational Monday Moment – 1/23/17

Today’s Motivational Monday Moment came to me over the last week. The word for today is faith. Faith as a noun is belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion. I was reminded to keep my faith last week.

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It was a rough week. While the view was beautiful. The road’s seemed impassable. The battle was long and uphill and I saw no break in the rough terrain.

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Everywhere I looked, I encountered more problems than resolutions and more pain than peace. I was really going through it. I began to question. Question was I good enough? Could I finish this race?

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I began to bemoan my situation. Why me O’ Lord? Why me? Why have thou forsaken me? Why do I have to endure the trials and tribulations of life on a consistent basis?

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I began to bargain…Lord, if you just let me catch a break I promise to be better. I promise to do more. I promise to…

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I began to be selfish. I allowed my own trials and tribulations to distract me from God’s will. I was being distracted. I was tried, tested and had failed because I had allowed my faith to become smaller than my situation. I knew better.

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I had to refocus my faith. My faith was being tested. There were going to be situations and trials that were determined to knock me off my path, but I would be steadfast and unmovable. I needed to get a hold onto my life and center my faith. All was not lost. I am not alone. I couldn’t sit here in wallow in my pity about my circumstance. I had to kneel in prayer. To go to the one who was the keeper of my spirit.

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To seek guidance. To know that all was not lost. To know that joy cometh in the morning. I can’t act like I don’t have problems because I do. But, I serve a God that is bigger than my problems. I just had to remember that.

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No time to sit here and bemoan my lot in life. I need to get back the pep in my step and hold my head up high. This race is not over. I will keep the faith. I will keep pushing and I will keep believing because I am not meant to be a victim, rather I’m meant to be a victor.

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I can’t lose my faith. We can’t lose our faith. Don’t worry about this post election drama. Don’t worry about things that seem out of control at the moment. You and I serve a mighty God. We’ve experienced both the best and worst of times and you know what? We will survive.

Don’t Judge a Person by Their Vote – True Confessions of a Trump Supporter 

This post right here is everything. Please read this beautiful post and you will understand why I say that.

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In the weeks since the election I have been called many things. I’ve been called racist, homophobic and sexist. I’ve been told I am contributing to rape culture and that I have no respe…

Source: Don’t Judge a Person by Their Vote – True Confessions of a Trump Supporter 

What Can I Say?

I know it’s been a while since I wrote a post. Please forgive me. Life got in the way. I went to sleep the night of Tuesday, November 8th praying that God’s will be done in the presidential election. I awoke the next day realizing that Donald Trump had won the election. Wow! I sighed. I cried. I felt defeated.

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I said “God, you are Sovereign. Your will be done.” It was. I’ve come to terms with it. Accepted it. Released all pain and fear to the one who leads my life. He knows what’s going on. I choose to trust in Him.

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That being said, I am like many of you. I will not tolerate any form of discrimination, fear or hate. I will not go quietly in the night and allow bullies to rule the land where my ancestors died. Can’t you hear it?

Freedom.

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Freedom from tyranny and oppression. Freedom from racism and misogyny. Freedom from bullies. I will and I can live in the country where I was born. I will pray. I will trust in the almighty.

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I am but one of many. I have a voice. I have witnessed the hate crimes being shown in the media. It’s heartbreaking. It’s scary. But, I will survive. You will survive. We will survive. If we unite together. We are one.

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Election Day – Part 1

I’ve stayed away from discussions about the election for numerous reasons, mainly because I don’t want to engage in a back and forth argument over which candidate is the best. At this point, neither is that great. However, I do believe in the importance of voting.

It is a right that I don’t take for granted. I am black. Voting wasn’t granted to my ancestors even after freedom was. That being said we need to exercise the right to vote. Even when the options seem slim.

My son has been getting all into this election mainly because Nickelodeon has been running ads to educate the kids on the voting process. He goes to school and they discuss politics. He’s only in the 3rd grade, yet he has an unwavering ability to let you know who you shouldn’t vote for and his reason is simple “I don’t like who he is”.

Pretty interesting huh? He’s 8.

I early voted here in Maryland last week. It was my first time early voting. I’ve taken my son to the polls every time since he was born on election day. This was the third time for the presidential election, but every time we have an election I bring him along. I want him to understand the importance and value in voting.

Last week when we went out trick or treating in a well off area where the candy is plentiful and the gifts are amazing (they gave brand new books to each child) we walked the streets admiring the costumes and houses knowing that we wouldn’t be able to afford a house in this neighborhood. Prices were well over 1 million dollars and as a single parent with one income, unless I sell “sex on the corner”, it ain’t happening. At least not now.

So many people trick or treat in this neighborhood far and wide. The people are always friendly and they really go out of their way to decorate their houses and yards and make it fun for the kids. Year after year, we’re never disappointed. I’ve brought friends with me for the last three years and they love it too.

Well, we’re walking along a street and Munch is yelling “Trick or Treat” well before he gets to the house in anticipation of his candy. He laughs and says thank you after a treat. One house we stopped at had a sign supporting their presidential candidate choice in their front yard. Munch looked at it and asked the woman “Why do you have that Trump sign in your yard?” She responded “I don’t know.”

Feeling embarrassed by his lack of decourum, I rushed him away. He then turned to me and asked “Mommy, why does she have a sign for Trump in her yard?” I responded, “Because she is supporting him.” He didn’t understand. He asked, “But why mommy?”

I said “Munch, the great thing about an election is that you can vote for whomever you choose. You can support whichever candidate you feel is best to represent you.” He listened and then said, “But mommy, Trump is not a good guy and he doesn’t represent anyone.”

I realized at this moment that my little boy was growing up. I couldn’t be embarrassed by his questions when I’ve done everything to show him the importance of voting. I can’t get mad when he yells that you should vote for Hillary Clinton because those are the top two choices we have (realistically speaking) who will run this country.

He’s entitled to his opinion. Which is what he was expressing when we went to the polls last week. His 8 year old opinion.

 

Parenting 101: I’m Not Done Yet

Now, that you’ve heard my struggle with Munch’s teachers in my Parenting 101 tips, I want to let you know why I can’t stop fighting. That I’m not done yet. It’s simple…race. Munch is black. I’m black.

I have a black son. A son who was stigmatized by some the minute he was born. Because he’s black. I know that he will be just a “boy” to some, a “nigger” to others and“angry” to many. But, he’s my son. A black boy. He’s not a threat to America. He’s 7.

I grew up in this country. The America I grew up in was filled with many different races, religions and very few hateful comments. I knew I was black. My color didn’t matter to many or so I thought. I mean in the south you’re used to racist remarks, but up north, it’s supposed to be different right?

I remember thinking that if the President got elected that my newborn son would have someone to look up to. That he would see another black man and that the most important job in the world wouldn’t seem impossible for him to achieve. He could really do everything if Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

He was elected. Racial tensions changed. The country that I loved so much and eloquently studied history on – was now showing it’s true colors. Why? When did the country that I had believed was moving forward begin to move backwards? When did it become acceptable to become a racist and then try to justify said racist remarks in defense of protecting the USA.

From what? Me? My 7 year old son? Heck, I’m trying to protect him. Each and every day that he awakens, I’m trying to protect him from becoming a target. From being ignored. From being disregarded, disrespected or dismissed. He matters. I matter. We matter.

Every day I wake up new statistics show that our little brown babies are being ignored. From being overlooked in talented and gifted programs or from teachers that have low expectations for them. When did this attitude become acceptable?

Three of my favorite teachers from high school still mean the world to me. I owe them so much. They were not only wonderful teachers, they were wonderful women. They shaped my belief that I could do anything. They nurtured and molded me into an intelligent woman that would someday conqueror the world. They were white.

I didn’t really understand the importance of role models at that time or the importance of having them, but I admired them. I loved the way they commanded attention when they walked down the hall. I loved the way they invested in each student. I loved the way they never let me take the shortcut or easy way out.

They believed in me. They helped me believe in myself. Where are these same kind of teachers now? Where are they when it comes to teaching my son? Is it because I was a girl? Nope. I can’t believe that’s all to it.

My shift has changed because I am a black woman raising a black boy in a post Jim Crow era when it seems we’ve moved backwards. Reading that teacher expectations reflect biases hurts me. Not just as a person of color. But, as a mother.

White teachers expect significantly less academic success than do black teachers, a new study concludes. This is especially true for black boys. – Jill Rosen, Hub.com

So, what am I saying? If I’m bombarded with news that your racial biases are likely being played out in the classroom can you understand why I will come to my child’s defense? I know about the school to prison pipeline. I’ve heard about it for years.

Black Americans are suspended and expelled at three times the rate of white students. They make up 16 percent of school enrollment, but account for 32 percent of students who receive in-school suspensions, 42 percent of students who receive multiple out-of-school suspensions and 34 percent of students who are expelled. – Lindsey Cook, U.S. News

When I walk into a meeting with a teacher or educator I’m already feeling defensive. I feel like I have to defend my child because statistically speaking we’re looking at him through two different lenses and one could have racial biases in place. It’s not always true. But, realistically speaking I’ve had to tout my academic successes/credentials as well as naming our family’s successes so that his teachers back off and know that they’re not dealing with another poor black kid.

My expectations for my son are high. My expectations for his teachers and the administration is just as high. If I know that white female teachers ignore, have low expectations for black boys and they are disciplined more harshly why would I not feel the need to hold you accountable in the beginning?

I’m tired folks. I’m tired of fighting and I want some clear and transparent conversations about race and racial biases to be had at the school. Let’s call out the institutionalized racism that exists. Educators should know that black parents are reading and scared that you’re already trying to diagnosis, steer or ignore our children. How can we work together to make sure that we’re all in this together?

That we are going back to the day when it seemed like teachers just wanted to teach you. They were compassionate. They were motivating you. They were supporting you. They knew you.

My President is black. My son is black. I’m tired of fighting and he’s only 7. However, I know that I’m not done yet. I have many rivers and miles to cross. I just want to know that his teachers are crossing them with me and not just standing on the shoreline.

Why I Vote

Today is election day. I love election day. Always have. Maybe because my mother instilled a strong sense of racial pride, politics and history that I always knew that voting was something I wanted to do. I was devastated that I couldn’t vote for President Bill Clinton in the first election. He was my hero. He was a cool white guy, who played the sax and loved black people. So at 17 I knew that I wanted him to represent me as an American. Didn’t take much, but I think his election resonated with African Americans and we felt like we had a “black” president. He was concerned about us as a people and we elected him.

I remember standing in line when I moved to Nashville to attend Fisk University at the city hall registering to vote. I was 18. I wanted to exercise my right in the electoral process and couldn’t wait. I filled out the forms and received my voter registration card. I was official. Although I didn’t cast my official ballot in Tennessee, that didn’t stop me from registering when I moved back home to Maryland and yes, I’m a Democrat. Do I believe in one party over the other? No, not really. I’m probably somewhere in the middle, but I feel as though Democrats genuinely like black people which is something I don’t quite experience in the Republican party. Doesn’t mean I dislike them, I just want them to find educated brown people that look like me and maybe I will be persuaded to change lines. Maybe.

Today is a great day because it is an historic time for African Americans. More than 100 African Americans will be on the ballots across the country. I’m loving it. How about the fact that 83 black Republicans and Democrats are running for the U.S. House and of that 83, 30 of them are women?Yep, I am still smiling. How about the fact that in Georgia, 5 black women are making history and running for statewide offices? They are known as the Georgia Five.  This is change. This is progress. This is what happens when people step up and exercise their right to vote and make change. They believe that they can make a difference.

Voting changes things. This is true:

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I’m encouraging you to get out and vote today. READ the issues affecting your county and state and vote.

Why do I vote?

I vote for me. I am a woman. I matter.

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I vote for those that marched.

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I vote because up until the Voting Rights Act I couldn’t vote. I’m from the south. This Act gave me the right to vote.

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I vote because of him.

Because he needs to understand that people died for our right to vote.
Because he needs to understand that people died for our right to vote.

I vote because it matters. Get out and vote!

Is Ferguson a case of class warfare?

Ferguson, Missouri the scene of Michael Brown’s death last week has been put on the map. The New York Times reported that Ferguson has about 21,000 residents, in which 63% are black. There are 33% white and 3% other. What is interesting about this town (which is 20 minutes outside of St. Louis) is the fact that 92% of arrests are black residents and 86% of all stops are black residents. Astounding statistics, but I’m not surprised. In any small town populated by majority of blacks you probably will see the trend where the color of the police force doesn’t match the residents. With all the things that have happened and continue to happen in Ferguson since Michael Brown’s death, I’m left wondering is the bigger issue more of class than race?

The situation in Ferguson has escalated since the August 9th shooting. Last week the police chief released a video showing a “robbery” that the victim, Michael Brown, allegedly committed before he was shot. Michael Brown hadn’t even been buried yet. The police chief was trying to show cause for the officer shooting Brown. But, that video did nothing but escalate the tensions in an already ticking time bomb city. People were angry. The fact that the police chief seems incompetent has furthered their rage. So, in comes the governor trying to restore the order of things and he in fact makes it worse. He decides to set a curfew. He wanted to curb the civil unrest. But, tear gas and smoke into the crowds only made matters worse. On Sunday night, some protesters became violent and attacked the officers with firebombs and gunfire. Why? Don’t we need to focus on the issue? So, of course the governor announced yesterday that he will deploy the National Guard to restore order.

Last week, I was having a conversation with a friend of mine and I asked the question, what do you think about the situation in Ferguson? I told him, that I dread having to teach my son that he should always be respectful of others, but especially officers because I don’t want him “viewed as a suspect” and gunned down. His response…

“The problem with the “making sure our young men are respectable” argument is that Police target Black youth regardless. In fact they are targeting anyone they don’t think comes from wealth. While the media has made many of these incidents simply about race it points to a bigger problem of class warfare against lower income citizens. It just so happens that in this country the Black community for the most part is on the low end of the economic scale. This is why many Police have little regard for us. They’ll think someone White is more likely to have a higher income than a minority regardless of appearance. Go to any country and the citizens the Police abuse the most are poor people.

The only way Blacks can help stop these attacks and protect our civil rights is to have a greater economic base as a community that wields more influence on the Political Landscape and Legal system. The community is always so divided and selfish on so many levels that anything that would require cooperation and sharing is virtually impossible for us.

I just had a debate with a young guy on twitter. He doesn’t agree it’s about economics and thinks it’s just about skin color. I tried to explain that it’s deeper than that. If we had more power as a community then police would have to reform 1.Hiring practices 2.Police Procedures 3.Punishments for misconduct. A community only can push to get reforms through if they have economic weight. We don’t have any. We’re still the red headed stepchild of the US. We just have sprinkles of wealth among a few individuals but that’s it. We have trillions of dollars in spending power but it gets wasted on short term materialistic nonsense instead of being put to long term viable use. We’ve been playing Checkers for years and reacting instead of playing Chess and thinking steps ahead trying to proactively nip things in the bud.”

Deep huh? I thought so too. Another conversation with my girlfriends last night about Ferguson had me thinking that maybe my friend’s point of view had merit. She said, “The situation in Ferguson is being tainted by all the looters instead of the real issue which is the fact that this young man was shot. These people are not exercising their judicial rights of voting the people that they want in office. They can always write a letter to their attorney general for all the problems that they are facing with regards to the police.” I pondered her statement and then responded, “But how many black people know that?” I told her what my friend said, “This is a bigger issue than race, it is a class issue and how many of us in the middle class are doing enough to educate the lower class on their rights?”

Black people have gotten away from the grassroots efforts that we use to utilize in the 1950’s and 1960’s when we were fighting for Civil Rights and fair housing in our own communities. We began to create silos and sectioned ourselves from those who didn’t have as much as we did: money, education, connections. We became the haves and have nots. Our education became the fundamental difference between us and others. We moved into our big homes in neighborhoods that weren’t predominately black and started going to exclusive black clubs. We became bougie and disengaged from our brethren who couldn’t move out of the hood. Whether it be lack of economics or education, we didn’t try to bridge the gap of each one teach one.

Ferguson is not just a race issue but one of class warfare. Class warfare is defined on Dictionary.com as “the struggle for political and economic power carried on between capitalists and workers.” Isn’t this what my friend was just saying? Isn’t that the point of my girlfriend’s argument? Deeper than race. It’s economics and politics. Just last week, Peter Mccoy, wrote an article for Bloomberg Businessweek in which he said

“The map of St. Louis County, the home of Ferguson, looks like a shattered pot. It’s broken into 91 municipalities that range from small to tiny, along with clots of population in unincorporated areas. Dating as far back as the 19th century, communities set themselves up as municipalities to capture control of tax revenue from local businesses, to avoid paying taxes to support poorer neighbors, or to exclude blacks. Their behavior has ranged from somewhat parochial to flatly illegal.”

Class warfare right? But is there anything that we can do to change this? Probably not, because the issue is deeper than the poor blacks or poor whites in this country but one that unites us based on income levels. The richer have better opportunities to ensuring that their voices are being met because more money = more political power. I read this great article by Bill Moyers titled “The Great American Class War” whereby he talked about interviewing former Supreme Court Justice William Brennan about a documentary that he was doing for public television and how Justice Brennan worried about the “looming size of government”. This quote in the article about a speech that Justice Brennan made that went to the heart of the matter. He said:

“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses… Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.”

So, can anything be done? Are we stuck in a class war that is brewing over and showing its ugly head in small town America? In an area, like Ferguson, will we continue to see the problems that America keeps trying to sweep under it’s rug because poor blacks don’t have the financial backing to ensure that their government elected officials are working for them? In an urban area, do we have to institute more grassroots efforts to educate the poorer classes on their rights and not just during election time?

We can’t let what we know and perceive to be true push us as a community to loot or be involved in illegal activities in spite of the misguided efforts of the elected government officials. Don’t resort to violence or you will forget that the point of the peaceful protests is to shed light on the injustices that occurred in that small town. The wheels of justice are slow, but they work as long as we are diligent and active and not combative to law enforcement. Remember, united as one, we shall overcome someday.

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